Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.
Luke 2:22-40 New Living Translation (NLT)
Today is February 2 – for most of us we know it as Groundhog Day. Yes, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. For our family, this day is also the birthday of our second grandchild, Anna, who was named after one of the characters in this passage today.
Mary and Joseph had come to present Jesus. This is something that Jewish parents would have done. Also Mary had come to go through the purification ritual following the birth of Jesus.
It was at that time that a man named Simeon saw Jesus. Luke tells us that he was full of the Holy Spirit – I believe this is how Simeon picked out Mary and Joseph from the others. Simeon sees Jesus – he had been waiting for the Promised One to appear and here he was. Simeon says, “I have seen the salvation you have prepared for all the people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
I don’t think Mary and Joseph knew what to do with that – even though they knew they had a special child. He also tells Mary to expect heartbreak, because Jesus has come on a mission to save the world.
There also was a woman – a prophet in the temple. Her name was Anna. She was old and had been widowed for a long time. She was 84 years old and she stayed at the temple worshiping God day and night. She sees Simeon talking to Mary and Joseph and starts telling the truth – or prophesying about Jesus. And becomes another evangelist for Jesus – the first being the shepherds.
Simeon and Anna were both proclaimers of the gospel. The broadcast the light of Jesus to the world. The mission of Jesus was to save the world and Simeon and Anna were some of the first to proclaim that mission.